VOICE OF DEMOCRACY
Established in 1947, our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 25,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program.
The national first place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. A complete list of other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2022-2023 Voice of Democracy entry form here.
The 2022-23 theme is: "Why is the Veteran Important?"
About the 2021-2022 winner ...
Daniela Mare, a junior at Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, was named the 2021-2022 Voice of Democracy first place winner. Daniela's speech on the theme, "America: Where Do We Go from Here?" won her a $30,000 college scholarship. Daniela VFW Post 9486 and its Auxiliary in Centereach, New York. Watch as Daniela delivered her speech (1:09:30) during the VFW's virtual Parade of Winners award ceremony or see the complete list of winners.
Each year, nearly 68,800 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards. Each first place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first place winner wins $5,000!
The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300- to 400-word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief. Before submitting your essay, read the rules and eligibility requirements, and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31. Download and complete the 2022-2023 entry form here.
The 2022-23 theme is: " My Pledge to Our Veterans."
About the 2021-2022 winner ...
Syed Ali, an eighth grade student from Lafayette, Louisiana, was named the 2021-2022 Patriot's Pen first place winner. His essay on the theme, "How Can I Be a Good American?" won him a $5,000 award. Syed was sponsored by New Iberia, Louisiana, VFW Post 1982. Watch as Syed delivered his winning essay (1:02:00), during the VFW's virtual Parade of winners streamed live on Facebook, or see the complete list of 2022 national winners.
Without our nation’s veterans, America wouldn't be the great nation it is today. Our youth deserve to learn about our rich history, traditions and the role of our veterans in creating and shaping America.
Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars selects elementary, middle, and high school teachers to participate in the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher program.
Please review the new rules and eligibility requirements and download the 2022 entry form to nominate a teacher you know. Teacher nomination entries must be received at a local participating VFW Post by the Oct. 31 deadline.
Looking to share updated information and materials on VFW's Voice of Democracy, Patriot's Pen and Teacher Award programs? Share our National Scholarship Brochure (coming soon) with the students and educators in your community.
For Donations: If your Post or District does not have any entries, you can donate to qualify for All-State and All-American.